i'm at work but i don't feel like i'm at work art
April 1st, 2020

I'm at work, but I don't feel like I'm at work—Reflecting on P'unk Ave's 15th Birthday

Matt Goold 👀
Chief Creative Officer, Partner

I’m sitting down to write this from my home—the place I currently work from as we collectively do our part in social distancing to aid the impossibly trying times we are living through. As we’ve been adapting to the new dynamic, the thought that I’ve been wrestling with over the past few weeks is simple, and yet disorienting: I’m at work, but I don’t feel like I’m at work.

Everything I was used to is different. And yes, In this moment, like everything else, that is colored by the coronavirus and the spread of COVID-19. However, as I reflect on our business as it celebrates its 15th birthday, I realize that that’s a feeling I’ve felt before. 

I left a wildly draining job that made me very unhappy to come and join the P’unk Ave team a little over six years ago. At the time in my life, P’unk Ave represented something I thought was unachievable—a business focused on doing purpose-driven work, being run in a way that felt empathetic, kind, and human. As I got acclimated to the team, I was impressed by how generous P’unks were with their time, how thoughtful decisions were being made, and how it felt like a joy to come to the studio every day with other people who felt the same way. A big framed poster hangs in the storefront space of our studio, “Work Hard and Be Nice To People” it says. As my definition and understanding  of “work” was being redefined through my experience at P’unk, this is when I first wrestled with the feeling of being at work but not feeling like it.

After nearly two years, one of my closest friends at work left—a person who was so encouraging and essential in my on-boarding, who would leave a hole not easily filled—and it was really hard. Soon after, a few others, and within that year a handful more. As the team shuffled, and as new team members were joining, it was rapidly feeling very different. I faced the feeling again, but this time it didn’t feel as fun. P’unk Ave was changing and in some ways, I feared the future because I knew it wouldn’t look like the past. Silly me—the future never looks like the past. 

Since that first shock to my system, P’unk has continued to change many times and in many ways. Sometimes in ways we plan for, and other times in ways we assess and respond to. Each time leaves me reflecting on how different it feels than a year ago, a month ago, a week ago. My roles have changed, we’ve spun out a new company, we’ve brought in new leadership, we’ve changed processes, we’ve said goodbye to talented people, we’ve grown the team, we’ve developed new services—each inviting new dynamics and energy causing more change. I suppose the admittance here is that everything changes. Team members, projects, resources, budgets, markets, where and how you work—truly everything. P’unk Ave is not unique in experiencing these changes, we’re just a business.

However, it’s been our ability to respond to and embrace all of these changes gracefully and nimbly—and in our best versions, anticipate and plan for them—that has allowed us to celebrate a 15th birthday. And it will be what continues to allow for us to do that. 

As I look back to the moments in which we’ve experienced change, I feel grateful for the new possibilities they inherently bring with them. It’s the hopeful reality that carries us into the future.

While I could accept this begrudgingly, I've chosen to think of it differently. Yes, I’ve come to no longer fear the places we’ll go just because of the ways it will look different from where we came, but more importantly, I understand more clearly that what change brings and how you handle it, is most often a gift. In each of the scenarios I referenced above, and each of the times I wrestled with how “different” feels, given a little time and little patience, I can look back and see that P’unk Ave emerged a little stronger, a slightly better version of ourselves. In that way, having the familiar feel suddenly unfamiliar is a privilege. Without being able to change, you cannot grow, and you cannot survive, and you cannot thrive.

So as we all login from home this morning, unmute our microphones and turn our videos on to say hello over the Zoom call, we practice what it means to experience this version of change, and participate in what it means to survive, and we do it because we are committed to thriving.

My confidence comes from our long history of doing that and my hopefulness for the future comes knowing that a stronger version of ourselves waits for us on the other side.

Matt Goold 👀
Chief Creative Officer, Partner